Ian Ferguson‘s projects at Design Products – Platform 11 (Royal College of Art in London) this year have explored tools, in particular the way that they are never objects unto themselves, but imply a network of human intentions, material objects and social relationships. Hence when designing a tool you are setting up a dialogue between all the agents in the network that the tool taps into.
It took me a while and a long explanation text from the designer to understand the relationship between some of his projects: the caveman ones and those that deal with advanced fabrication techniques: “For me they are all related to questions that I have about what the appropriate role of technology in our lives is and how I, as a designer, can reconcile my dislike of overconsumption with my belief in science and technology.”
Nouveau Neolithic starts with A Man and His Pan!
A neolithic knife and a hammer appear almost identical to modern eyes; two fist-sized rocks with only the slightest formal difference between the two. Their functions are defined as much by how neolithic man chose to use them as by any fundamental formal differences.
Modern homes are full of specialized objects that extend far beyond the simple neolithic hammer & knife pairing, but how many of them are intrinsically different and how many are only differentiated by our collective agreement to perceive them as different?
Following an analysis of new kitchen tools, Ian Ferguson determined that the frying pan can perform most of the tasks that all our normal household tools can. It is just a matter of learning to look at it as an object of unknown potential rather than a â€œfrying pan.â€? Design is as much an action as it is an object.
Nouveau Neolithic – range
Nouveau Neolithic is a range of tools for post-apocalyptic gourmands to allow us to cope with food and energy scarcity while preserving pleasure and dignity in our daily lives. They allow small groups to produce refined gourmet cuisine from simple staples and foraged foods, minimizing energy consumption by replacing electrical power with collective labour. The object of the project is to try and find strategies for using objects to promote positive social responses to a scenario where climate change and energy supply depletion has brought an end to cheap food imports and everything except the most basic of staple foods have moved out of reach of all but the super-rich.
How will the middle class gourmands, who have become so used to their food blogs and gastropub meals, preserve the pleasure and dignity of having a fine food culture? Drawing inspiration from the communal cooking practices that emerged during the Depression and World Wars in America and Europe, Nouveau Neolithic proposes a new take on sustainability by focussing on transforming the limitations imposed by global warming and resource depletion into positive new social practices.
The range consists of a series of portable kits that allow for food preparation and cooking.
The Al Fresco Bain Marie is a simplified version of the sous-vide cooking systems found in commercial kitchens, where food is cooked sealed in plastic bags in a water bath to very precise temperatures. Instead of relying on sophisticated electronics to maintain these temperatures, the Al Fresco Bain Marie relies on human observation and intervention.
Couples Pasta Extruder with Rabbit Pappardelle
The Couple’s Pasta Extruder is a simple pasta extrusion machine that consists of a wooden plunger and metal tube with extrusion head at one end. One person holds the extrusion head while the other pushes on the plunger to force the pasta out.
Team Food Processing allows for purÃ©eing and chopping foods. A large wooden pestle and metal mesh mortar are used to purÃ©e food, and an adjustable hopper and guillotine knife are used to slice, chop and dice.
Team Food Processor with Blackberries and Elderflower Custard
In addition to all the objects, Ian Ferguson also designed a number of menus and recipes to be made using foraged foods and the tools kits. Example: Pappardelle with Rabbit, Field Mushrooms & Thyme.
Images courtesy of the designer.